Q & A: Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability with Ron Becker
As a developer, Brandywine Realty Trust is guided by a deep-seated commitment to responsible and sustainable environmental and social strategies. We are proud of the work we have done and continue to do, to develop, own and operate exceptional buildings that serve as bridges to the surrounding communities.
We are thrilled to announce our 2021 Corporate Social Responsibility Report is now available.
We sat down with Ron Becker, Senior Vice President of Operations and Sustainability, to talk about our sustainability and social responsibility journey.
Q: Brandywine has been committed to social responsibility and sustainability for many years. Over the years, how successful has Brandywine been in incorporating sustainability into its strategic and everyday business decisions?
Ron: Brandywine has been a trailblazer in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) long before it was an important focus for other organizations. As one of the industry’s inaugural Green Lease Leaders, focused on developing healthy buildings and driving towards energy efficiency, Brandywine has led the pack for years.
As time has gone on, Brandywine’s commitment to ESG has matured into a more holistic program. Our approach marries environmental decisions and social considerations. We weigh things like consumption and precious resource reduction along with social impacts to our employees and the local communities we serve. This approach allows us to positively impact a wide range of people while making decisions that are environmentally and sustainably conscious.
Q: Now more than ever, there is growing importance for companies to ramp up their focus on social responsibility. What would you say are the three to five most important things businesses should consider as they think through their sustainability or corporate social responsibility efforts?
Ron: I think that ESG, especially the environmental and social aspects, are finding traction given the rise of the millennial generation in the workforce. Creating fair and equitable opportunity within the workforce, as well as having a true sense of diversity, equity, and inclusion is now a critical focus for most, if not all, organizations.
Community is also an important factor that companies should be thinking about when it comes to ESG. Brandywine has a long track record as a community-minded developer who is additive to the neighborhoods we serve. We follow a ‘listen, learn, then decide’ approach by regularly engaging with community stakeholders to understand their wants and needs. We recognize that owning and developing real estate is about more than just a return on our investment.
As a part of our Schuylkill Yards development, Brandywine has committed to investing $16.4 million back into the local community through the Neighborhood Engagement Initiative. We aim to support community programs and growth within the neighborhoods impacted by our multi-year planned development.
Last, but certainly not least, volunteerism and corporate giving are true drivers for employee engagement. We can all make a difference, as a collective group, to benefit our local communities and programs.
During COVID, Brandywine saw these challenges as an opportunity to help both our tenants and the hard-hit local community. We delivered nearly 38,000 meals to those in need through efforts and fundraising led by our staff.
Q: Looking ahead, what are a few sustainability or corporate social responsibility efforts that Brandywine is looking to make a stronger impact on? Additionally, what are efforts you think other companies should be focusing on?
Ron: In 2022, we will continue to focus on the health and wellness standards within our buildings. We want to ensure that our tenants can make a safe return to the office. Additionally, we are focused on meeting our energy reduction targets. As we continue to find the best ways to meet these targets, we are excited to begin construction on our first on-site solar power generating project.
As for other companies, in commercial real estate, we are seeing more firms think about sustainability, which is excellent. It is important to understand how power is being used or consumed within their buildings. You can’t prove what you can’t measure, so collecting and analyzing data can help accurately assess where a company may fall on the spectrum of sustainability. Once there is a baseline understanding, it provides an accurate blueprint of what a company can do to start building a plan.
It is important to point out that sustainability has also become a focus for tenants looking to secure office or retail space. At Brandywine, we have achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and other meaningful certifications for our buildings by partnering with our tenants, who share similar sustainability values. Partnering with our tenants on sustainability initiatives, allows them to be involved in what we are doing and obtain certifications for their spaces as well.
By having a plan that engages both tenants and employees, everyone has a part in the solution. Figure out which sustainability and social responsibility initiatives make the most sense for your business. Find programs and initiatives that will drive value, consumption reduction, and most importantly, drive change.
Click here to read Brandywine Realty Trust’s 2021 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.